CASA holds dinner for Student Orientation


By Pauline Victoria Martinez

student cooking using horno

Photo by James Abbott, the Cultural Awareness and Student Achievement Center makes good use of the horno, cooking for students during New Student Orientation.

This is the first year the Cultural Awareness and Student Achievement (CASA) center at Adams State University hosted a dinner for new commuter and international students. The dinner was in collaboration with New Student Orientation and took place in the back yard of the center, which is really a little house in the corner of the Nielsen Library parking lot. However, the vision of the center is much bigger than the building it occupies. Oneyda Maestas, the director of the center, seeks to make it "a house that feels like home." This is something she accomplishes every day for students who often call CASA their home away from home.

students gathered at table to eat

Photo by James Abbott, students enjoy the meal.

The purpose of the dinner was to make these new students feel welcome and a part of ASU's multicultural family. Students gathered around the traditional hornos used to cook the lamb, and curry rice made by Adams State junior Abdul Kamara who is from Sierra Leon, and Adams State senior Martin Wolffe from Bermuda. Students enjoyed the ambiance of Caribbean music in the setting of a traditional Hispanic back yard. A petting zoo was provided by Elena Miller-TerKuile, owner of Cactus Hill Farm. The gathering started with a few students. However, the amazing food motivated the students to use social media and texting to entice their friends to join them. The dinner quickly grew to over 50 attendees and the college event soon took on the feeling of a large family meal.

students grouped around casa sign

Photo by James Abbott, students gather around CASA.

This represents the multicultural power food has to bring people together and make people feel more relaxed while accomplishing CASA's vision of a house that feels like home. During the meal students chatted and quickly got to know one another. This is such a regular occurrence at the center that the CASA motto is, "A place where strangers become friends and friends become family!"